The first round of the NFL Draft can be somewhat of a crapshoot in any given year. Sometimes proclaimed ‘can’t miss’ prospects fail to live up to expectations or completely flounder as rookies and perceived ‘project’ prospects hit the ground running and become instant difference makers on their respective teams. Luckily for the Baltimore Ravens, they seem to have landed a pair of studs with star potential with their top two picks in the 2021 draft.
With the first of their two selections in round one, they picked former Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman at No. 27 overall and took former Penn State edge defender Odafe Oweh at No. 31 overall.
While neither player shined on the box score stat sheet in the team’s 16-13 win over the Chicago Bears this past Sunday, both received respectable grades from Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson in Week 11.
Bateman didn’t record his first career touchdown or eclipse 100 yards receiving but was integral in the Ravens pulling out this win nonetheless and scored the highest of the two with a grade of 61.2. Despite only playing in five career games since making his debut in Week 6, Bateman ranks eighth among first-year players at his position on the season with an overall of 71.6.
“With no Lamar Jackson in the lineup, the Ravens’ passing game wasn’t quite where it typically is, even against a depleted Bears defense,” Monson wrote. “Tyler Huntley passed for 219 yards on 26 completions, with seven of those targets going toward Bateman. He came up with catches on just three of those targets, with a mixture of reasons for the incompletions. Over the season, Bateman has caught 61.8% of the passes sent his way and generated 1.6 yards per route run.”
Even though he didn’t record a sack and scored the lowest of the two this week with a grade of 52, Oweh brought relentless pressure and still ranks fifth among the 28 qualified first-year players at his position on the season with an overall of 67.8.
“Oweh led the Ravens with five pressures against the Chicago Bears this week. He rushed the passer 29 times, and while none of those pressures were sacks, he knocked the quarterback down twice,” Monson wrote. “Oweh ranks second among rookies in pressures (34), just one behind Micah Parsons. He possesses phenomenal burst and athleticism, providing a consistent source of pressure over the course of his debut season.
Grades aside, both players played pivotal roles in propelling the Ravens to victory by making plays on their respective sides of the ball despite each unit missing several starters due to injury and illness.